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Copyright 1998 by Leigh Kimmel
Minicon 33 was held over the weekend of April 10-12 in the Raddisson Hotel South of Bloomington, Minnesota, a suburb of Minneapolis. This is one of the largest cons in the Midwest, and activities actually begin on Thursday and continue to some degree through the Monday after the con is officially over. In fact, it is so large that the concom has concluded that it has become unmanageable, and have decided to trim it back. This has produced some backlash from many fans, and led to the creation of two new conventions in the Minneapolis area, to be held for the first time next year.
Travelling with a good friend, I arrived around noon on Thurday. Our first order of business was to get checked into the hotel and get our stuff up there. Then we sat around for a while and waited until the art show was set up and ready for artist check-in. Once my artwork was safely checked in and hung up, we headed out to purchase party supplies for the Sime~Gen party and to visit the Mall of America, which is billed as the world's largest enclosed shopping mall. In the evening, we took a tour of the party floor, including the Have A Cow party, which is held by some Chicago-area people.
On Friday the con started in earnest. The first order of business for us was getting the stuff in and set up for the dealer's room, since my friend is a bookseller. Once we got set up, it was almost time for the first of several panels that I was on. The first was "Fertile Ground: Fiction from Dreams" in which I and co-panelist Peg Kerr discussed how our writing might be inspired by dreams. The next, "Mythology in F&SF" dealt with the use of themes, images and other elements from traditional mythology in modern fiction. We all agreed that it is insufficient to simply copy, but rather the author must bring something new to the retelling, yet at the same time remain respectful of the original.
After a quick check of the art show I went back to the dealer's room to help with closing for the day, then headed upstairs to set up for the Sime~Gen party. Just as it was about to begin, I had to hurry back downstairs for yet another panel, "Just the facts, man..." which was on what everybody thinks they know about history but isn't true. As a professionally trained historian (I have an MA and about half a PhD in history), I made a point of distinguishing between primary and secondary sources and explaining how many textbooks and popular history materials "research" each other and rarely go back to scholarly secondary sources, let alone primary sources. When the panel was over, I hurried back up to the room party. Unfortunately we didn't get a very big turnout for the party, which was disappointing (not being on the main party floors probably didn't help), and I spent most of the evening talking with one of our few visitors about some novels I want to write.
Saturday started all too early with having to get things ready in the dealers' room, then hurrying off for yet another panel, "History -- take two..." which was on alternate history, although historical revisionism (both legitimate and agenda-based) got brought up as well. I had only a little time to check the art show and the con suite before I had to hurry to my next panel, the two-hour writers' workshop. Since not much was organized beforehand, we ended up mostly just discussing the hows and wherefores of a good workshop, and then discussing various aspects of writing. Afterward, I made one last check of the art show before heading back to the dealers' room for closing time.
Then there was just time for supper before hurrying off to the art auction. Although Minicon requires five bids for a piece to go to auction, there were still a lot of pieces on the auction. A number of them went for very high prices in some very emotionally-charged bidding wars. Afterward there was some discussion of certain buyers being foolish to pay so much, particularly in the case of prints that probably were also available for much less without the fancy matting of the framed ones.
After the auction, I took a walk around the parties to take a look. There were some good ones. Also I got taken up to the semi-private Tor party (it wasn't publicized, but if you knew about its existance, you were welcome to come) and got to meet some really interesting people. About midnight I finally decided it was time to turn in for the night.
Sunday I spent primarily in the dealers' room, except for a brief moment to check out my art from the art show (unfortunately I didn't get any sales, probably because I was having some trouble with my matting). Because a storm was threatening and we had a long drive ahead of us, we decided to break down and pack a little early so that we could get going in fair time. As always, I was a little sad when it was time to leave, since I'd had a really great time at this con. Unfortunately, with the changes, I'm not sure whether I'll be going next year.
Copyright 1998 by Leigh Kimmel
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